Monday, December 31, 2012

Firehouse Theatre's Steel Magnolias Cast Announced

LABELLE, FL. -- LaBelle's local theatre company has announced the cast of it upcoming February presentation. The players for the Firehouse Theatre's presentation of Steel Magnolias are:

Mary Cosmo as Truvy
Meaghan Johnson as Annelle
Janice Groves as Clairee
Bianca Ross as Shelby
Julie Wilkins as M'Lynn
Barb McDowell as Ouiser

Steel Magnolias runs February 15 thru February 24, 2013 at the Firehouse Theatre on Bridge Street in LaBelle, Florida.

2012 Home Sales In Hendry County Steady

Hendry Home Sales Steady - 321 Houses Sold

LABELLE, FL.  -- Home sales in the LaBelle area of Hendry county, Florida this year showed the lowest sales in November and the highest number of sales in May with 26 closings. In December there were 13 sales. There were 156 total sales this year. The record number of sales in the last four years was in May 2010 with 63 sales at an average price of $76,000.

In Clewiston, the sales pattern echoed LaBelle's with the slowest month in November and highest in May. There were 165 total sales in the Clewiston area. In the last four years the record number of sames were 39 in May 2010 at an average price of $57,000.

LaBelle Home Sales (Date/Number of Sales/Average Price) :
12-2012 13 $49,000.00
11-2012 1 $33,000.00
10-2012 7 $64,000.00
09-2012 20 $67,000.00
08-2012 16 $100,000.00
07-2012 18 $74,000.00
06-2012 9 $57,000.00
05-2012 26 $63,000.00
04-2012 9 $168,000.00
03-2012 14 $60,000.00
02-2012 13 $74,000.00
01-2012 10 $114,000.00

Clewiston Home Sales (Date/Number of Sales/Average Price) :
12-2012 15 $80,000.00
11-2012 1 $38,000.00
10-2012 12 $57,000.00
09-2012 12 $53,000.00
08-2012 10 $81,000.00
07-2012 20 $58,000.00
06-2012 6 $49,000.00
05-2012 28 $58,000.00
04-2012 13 $60,000.00
03-2012 23 $41,000.00
02-2012 12 $78,000.00
01-2012 13 $55,000.00

Wanted: Paddling And Hiking Enthusiasts

Paddling And Hiking Discussion Next Week
LABELLE, FL. -- Learn about the Florida Wildlife Conservation paddling and hiking trails at a free public program at the next Florida Trail meeting at Fisheating Creek in Glades County.

Liz Sparks, FWC Recreational Planner, will a present program on the current and proposed hiking and paddling trails in Florida at the Fisheating Creek Florida Trail Sub-Chapter meeting on Tuesday January 8, 2013 at 7 p.m. at the Glades County Historical Society’s Westergaard House located at 270 Avenue L, Moore Haven, FL. 

Directions to Westergaard House: From US27 in Moore Haven turns at the courthouse. Go 3 blocks to Avenue L, Turn left and go several blocks to brown house with white trim. 

FWC would like to take photos of off-road bicyclists using the trails at Fisheating Creek. Off-road bikers who would like to participate would meet at 9:00 a.m. at the Fisheating Creek Outpost in Palmdale. 

For information contact: Betty Loomis 863-532-9339 or to carpool from LaBelle contact Margaret England 863-517-0202

12 Arrests In Hendry County Drug Sweep

12 Drug Arrests After 3 Month Investigation

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Investigators, assisted by the Clewiston Police Department, conducted two simultaneous search warrants Thursday, December 20, 2012 and arrested 12 individuals after a three month investigation.

The twelve arrests and two search warrants were part of an investigation that began in September 2012. The investigation targeted subjects involved in selling and distributing prescription narcotics. Most of the subjects were arrested and charged with multiple counts of sale, distribution, and trafficking prescription narcotics. 

Prior to their arrests it had been determined that these individuals were responsible for the distribution of thousands of prescription pills into the City of Clewiston and surrounding communities.

Deputies arrested 26 year old Javier Velasquez (photo above) of 205 W. Aztec, Clewiston, after they conducted a search warrant at his home. During the search deputies located both Xanax and Oxycodone and seized $3,888.00.

Velasquez was arrested on charges of Possession Narcotics without a Prescription, and Trafficking. Velasquez is currently being held in the Hendry County Jail on $232,500.00 bond.

At the same time, deputies served a search warrant at the home of 20 year old Dustin Andrews, 1996 Strickland Road, Clewiston, Florida. Once inside the home, deputies located a revolver handgun with ammunition, 12 gauge shotgun, Bullet Proof Vest, and 2 police scanners.

Andrews was arrested on charges of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, Possession of Ammunition by a Convicted Felon, and Possession of a Police Scanner during the Commission of a Felony, and Violation of Felony Probation.

Hendry County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Investigators have conducted numerous undercover narcotics buys in Eastern Hendry County. As a direct result 10 other individuals were arrested on December 20, as members of the HCSO picked up individuals who have sold narcotics during the undercover operation.

Additional Arrests:

Clifton Tony Nichols, 34 years of age, was arrested on charges of Possession of a Controlled Substance without a prescription, Possession of a Controlled Substance with intent to Sell, Sale of Oxycodone within 1000’ of a Public Park and Trafficking. Nichols is currently being held in the Hendry County Jail on $290,000.00 bond

Margie Rose Ingram, 50 years of age, was arrested on charges of Possession of a Controlled Substance without a Prescription, Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Sell, Sale of Oxycodone within 1000’ of a Public Park, and Trafficking. Ingram is currently being held in the Hendry County Jail on $200,000.00 bond.

James McDonald Booth, 52 years of age, was arrested on charges of Possession of a Controlled Substance without a Prescription, Possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell, Sale of Oxycodone, and Trafficking Hydrocodone. Booth is currently being held in the Hendry County Jail on $96,000.00 bond.

Brittany Danielle Cotton, 19 years of age was arrested on charges of Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Sell and Possession of a Controlled substance without a Prescription and Sale of Synthetic Narcotics. Cotton is currently being held on $120,000.00 bond.

Sabrina Diane Smith, 40 years of age, was arrested on charges of Sale of Cocaine and Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Sell. Smith is currently being held in the Hendry County Jail on $37,500.00.

Jennifer Marie Loftis, 29 years of age, was arrested on charges of Possession of Synthetic Narcotics with Intent to Sell and Possession of Controlled Substance without a Prescription and Trafficking. Loftis is currently being held in the Hendry County Jail on $95,000.00 bond.

Shirley Nichols Cotton, 48 years of age, was arrested on charges of Possession of Controlled Substance e with Intent to Sell, Sale of Synthetic Narcotic, Possession of Controlled Substance without a Prescription and Trafficking. Cotton is currently being held on $185,000.00 bond.

Brenda Lee Hills, 47 years of age, was arrested on charges of Possession of a Controlled Substance w/o a Prescription, Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Sell, Sale of Oxycodone, Sale of Oxycodone within 1000’ of Place of Worship, Trafficking Oxycodone. Hill is currently being held in the Hendry County Jail on $215,000.00 bond.

Lisa Rose Ingram, 40 years of age, was arrested on charges of Sale of Synthetic Narcotics, Possession of Synthetic Narcotics with Intent to Sell, Possession of Controlled Substance without a Prescription, and Trafficking. Ingram is being held in the Hendry County jail on $125,000.00.

Clara Lynice Dominguez, 48 years of age, was arrested on charges of Possession of Synthetic Narcotics with Intent to Sell, Possession of Controlled Substance without a Prescription and Trafficking. Dominguez is currently being held in the Hendry County Jail on $65,000.00 bond.

Highest Ever Gas Prices This Year

With elevated prices across much of the country for prolonged periods, 2012 brought the highest average price ever for U.S. consumers: $3.60 per gallon.

Average retail gasoline prices in Florida have risen 7.6 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.34/g yesterday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 8,237 gas outlets in Florida. This compares with the national average that has increased 3.0 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.27/g, according to gasoline price website

Including the change in gas prices in Florida during the past week, prices yesterday were 4.7 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 1.4 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 13.2 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 1.7 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hot Button Stories Of 2012

Most Widely Read Five Stories This Year - Mattresses To Skydiving

LABELLE, FL. -- Readers of Southwest Florida Online in 2012 found these stories to be of the most interest this year. These most read articles covered widely ranging subjects from mattresses sales at high school athletic departments to how to avoid being taken by companies offering to buy time share vacation homes.

Time Share Resort owners and even people without time shares are being sent letters offering to get rid of maintenance fees. As it turns out the company wants a fee to 'help' the property owners. This story also garnered the most reader comments and discussion this year.

Google introduced it's new $249 laptop computer. Based on cloud computing, the new device makes it easy for everyone from beginner to advanced users to store data off the computer.

Could there have been life on Mars? NASA's Rover is exploring the planet in search of life.

How to break the sound barrier by parachuting out of a balloon high above the earth. An Austrian man skydives from miles above the earth while cameras roll to document the world record feat.

High School athletic departments around the county selling mattresses to make money. Are the school mattress sales a good deal? This article describes what you are getting for your money and where you should get your bedding.

*Southwest Florida Online has published 3,205 stories. Readers have made 3,231 comments accompanying the articles.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Norman Schwarzkopf Dead At 78

TAMPA, FL. -- General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., 78 died December 27 in Tampa, Florida where he had retired after service in the U.S. Army. He was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of Ruth Alice (née Bowman) and Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf. Sr.

Schwarzkopf reportedly died due to complications from pneumonia.

He retired from active service in August 1991, and shortly thereafter wrote an autobiography. In retirement, Schwarzkopf served as a military analyst for NBC, and began promoting prostate cancer awareness, a disease with which he was diagnosed in 1993, and for which he was successfully treated. 

Schwarzkopf donated most of his time to multiple charities, and community activities. He sat on the board for Remington, and several other high-profile corporations. On May 4, 2008 Schwarzkopf was inducted into New Jersey's Hall of Fame. He was also an honorary board member of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.
His father, H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr. served in the US Army before becoming the Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, where he worked as a lead investigator on the 1932 Lindbergh baby kidnapping case before returning to an Army career and rising to the rank of Major General.

In January 1952, Schwarzkopf's birth certificate was amended to make his name "H. Norman Schwarzkopf". This was done as an act of revenge against the upper class cadets at West Point because his father hated his own first name "Herbert."

Schwarzkopf, Jr. was a member of Mensa.

He is survived by wife Brenda and children Cynthia Schwarzkopf of Lithia, Florida, Jessica Schwarzkopf, and Christian Schwarzkopf.

Source: Wikipedia

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Norman Corneilus Bryant, Jr., age 56, of Fort Lauderdale, passed away December 25, 2012 in Fort Lauderdale. He was born Sep. 30, 1956 in Fort Myers.

Survivors include his daughter: Vicky Lynn Cockram of LaBelle, parents: Norman C. Bryant, Sr. and Jacquelyn S. (O'Banion) Bryant of Cherokee, AL, brothers: Anthony H. Bryant of Florence, AL and Daniel J. Bryant of Fort Lauderdale, sister: Jennifer Gail Griffey of Florence, AL and three grandchildren.

A graveside funeral service will be held Friday, December 28, 2012, 4:00 p.m. at Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle with Rev. Ashley Butler officiating. Interment will follow at Fort Denaud Cemetery. 

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Gold Coast Home Health & Hospice, 2101 West Commercial Blvd, Suite 4500 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309

Dock Strike May Be Knock Out Punch For Florida Economy

Florida Governor Asks Obama To Invoke Act To Prevent Work Stoppage

Today, Florida Governor Rick Scott held a press conference call with Florida port leaders to discuss the importance of Florida’s ports during the ongoing negotiations between the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) regarding their contract, which is set to expire Saturday, December 29th.

Governor Scott sent a letter to President Obama last week asking him to invoke the Taft-Hartley Act to prevent a possible work stoppage that could shut down ports if no agreement is reached between the two groups before the contract expires Saturday.

Scott said, " If a strike or a lockout occurs at that time, Florida’s largest ports could be shut down, sending shock waves through jobs all across our state – including truck driver jobs, manufacturing jobs, warehousing jobs – and many jobs beyond the ports themselves. A shut down of Florida ports is simply not an option for Florida families."

Former President Bush invoked the Taft-Hartly Act in 2002 to end a shutdown on the West Coast that disrupted supply chains nationwide and cost an estimated $1 billion a day. Florida port leaders think that a strike would be even worse than the West Coast strike of 2002 with more than $1 billion a day not going into the Florida economy.

Cargo-related activity at Florida seaports currently generates more than 550,000 direct and indirect jobs in Florida, and contributes approximately $66 billion in economic value to the economy.
About 60 ships use Florida four large commercial seaports consisting of about 34,000 cargo moves. What was described as a "knock out punch for the Florida economy" would result from a work stoppage at Florida ports.

The Port of Miami provides 180,000 job annually with 160,000 jobs related to container shipping and $18 billion to the economy. The Port provides the second largest amount of jobs in the South Florida area, according to Port Director Bill Johnson.

A strike or work stoppage would affect anything related to container shipping commodities and products at all ports in Florida but would not affect cruise shipping.

The participants at the press meeting included Governor Rick Scott, Bill Johnson, Port Director for Port Miami and Chairman of the Florida Ports Council Doug Wheeler, President for the Florida Ports Council Chris Kauffmann, COO of JAXPORT Steve Cernak, Port Director for Port Everglades Paul Anderson, Port Director for Port of Tampa Stan Payne, Port Director for Port Canaveral Manny Almira, Port Director for Port of Palm Beach Carlos Buqueras, Port Director for Port Manatee.

Photo: Port of Miami

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Crash Kills Man

Driver Hits Two Trees, One Death And Second Person With Serious Injuries

IMMOKALEE, FL. -- An early morning crash in Collier County, Florida left one dead. It's undetermined which of two occupants of the vehicle was the driver.

A 2003 Dodge Ram pickup truck was traveling south on State Road 29 north of county road 857 on the southbound lane at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday. For unknown reasons, the driver failed to maintain control and traveled (drifted) in a southeasterly direction across the northbound lane and entered the grassy east shoulder.

The driver then over corrected by steering in a southwesterly direction across both lanes of State Road 29 and the truck rotated clockwise. It entered the west shoulder where the truck's left front struck and knocked down a standing tree. 

As a result it overturned while continuing to travel in southwesterly direction. And as it was overturning it's right side subsequently struck a second standing tree, coming to final rest on it's right side faced northwest on the west shoulder, against the second tree. One occupant of was pronounced deceased at the scene and a second occupant was transported to Naples Community Hospital with serious injuries. 

Efforts to identify which occupant is the driver are ongoing. 

The vehicle occupants were Edgar Renata, 19 of Lehigh Acres, FL who was pronounced deceased on scene and occupant two was Ivan Zapata-Cruz, 19, of Immokalee, FL,  who sustained serious injuries and was transported to Naples Community Hospital.

Update: On December 27 the FHP identified the driver as Edgar Renata. A blood alcohol test is pending. His passenger was Ivan Zapata Cruz.

Christmas For The Birds

Annual Christmas Bird Count In South Florida
CLEWISTON, FL. -- The South Florida Water Management District is joining with the Hendry-Glades Audubon Society once again as the group conducts its portion of the 113th Christmas Bird Count in Stormwater Treatment Area 5 in Hendry County beginning at 7 a.m. December 29th.

During the 112th Christmas Bird Count, Audubon teams in STA-5 and the surrounding area documented 121 species and more than 133,000 birds. The 2011 count documented the highest totals in the United States for eight species: fulvous whistling duck, blue-winged teal, endangered snail kite, purple swamphen, American coot, greater yellowlegs, Northern rough-winged swallow and gray kingbird.

Data collected during the annual bird counts—which span North America and beyond—are critical to studies of the long-term health and status of bird populations, according to Audubon. The STAs, managed by the SFWMD, attract large numbers of birds and also provide the public with a variety of recreational opportunities, such as hiking, biking and excellent bird watching.

Stormwater Treatment Areas are the water-cleaning workhorses of Everglades restoration. They have also become renowned havens for wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

Contact: Margaret England, Hendry-Glades Audubon Society, (863)

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

James Melvin NeSmith, age 63 of LaBelle passed away December 21, 2012 in Lehigh Acres.
He was born Mar. 4, 1949 in Metter, GA, to the late James Marvin and the late Elnora (Edenfield) NeSmith. Melvin retired from the Navy.

He is survived by his wife: Irita Dale (Williams) NeSmith, son: Christopher Brian NeSmith and daughter: Dawn Marie Ganoe, two brothers: Bobby Ray NeSmith, Tony Lee NeSmith and one sister: Margie Faye Bateman, grandchildren, Jacob Taylor Ganoe and Sydney Grace Ganoe

Funeral services will be held Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 4:00 pm at Community Harvest Worship Center, LaBelle with Pastor L. W. Howard officiating. Interment will be Thursday, December 27, 2012 in Highland Memory Gardens, Apopka.

Visitation will be Wednesday from 2-4 p.m. at Community Harvest Worship Center, LaBelle, FL.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Clewiston Infant Run Over By Relative

One-Year Old Boy In Critical Condition After Being Pinned Under Car
CLEWISTON, FL. -- A Christmas afternoon accident left a one-year old in critical condition after her aunt's vehicle ran over the child.

Neice Love, 22 of the Harlem community of Clewiston, Florida was backing out of a parking space in the Harlem Tenants Apartment Complex at about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday when her nephew Marice Love ran towards the vehicle and slipped under the side of a 1992 Mercury Marquis.  

The vehicle's front tire ran over Marice Love and he was pinned under the vehicle. Marice Love was flown by a Bay Flight helicopter to Lee Memorial Hospital.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Most Expensive Christmas Ever For Driving

Gas Prices Rising Again

LABELLE, FL. -- Average retail gasoline prices in Florida have risen 2.5 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.26/g yesterday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 8,237 gas outlets in Florida. This compares with the national average that has not moved in the last week to $3.24/g, according to gasoline price website

In Hendry and Glades county, as usual prices were about 12 cents higher than Florida averages.

Including the change in gas prices in Florida during the past week, prices yesterday were 2.7 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 11.5 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 19.1 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 1.3 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

"With just hours to go before Christmas, it appears that the national average may set a new all-time record high, barely edging out 2011 as the most expensive average for gasoline on Christmas Day," said analyst Patrick DeHaan. "The bad news likely won't stop there- gasoline prices in six out of the last seven years have increased between Christmas Day and January 15 of the following year. If the national average rises to at least $3.26/gal before New Years Day it will mark the highest start for gas prices ever on the first day of the year," DeHaan said.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Six Month Old Child Of LaBelle Couple Dies

Joey David Cavazos, 6 month old son of Armando and Esmeralda (Pequeno) Cavazos, passed away on December 11, 2012 in Saint Petersburg, Florida. He was born May 28, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Survivors include: Armando and Esmeralda Cavazos, brother: Armando Cavazos, IV, sister: Nevaeh Leigh Cavazos, maternal grandmother: Teresa Pequeno, maternal grandfather: David Pequeno, Sr., paternal Grandfather: Armando Cavazos, Sr; paternal Grandmother: Elisa Cavazos, and several other family members.

Funeral Service was held Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 10:00 am at Caloosa Baptist Church, LaBelle with Dr. Les Morgan officiating. Interment was in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle. Visitation was Monday from 6-8 p.m. in Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle, FL.

Armando and Esmeralda would like to extend a heartfelt thank you for all the prayers, concern, love, thoughts and cards that they have received during Joey's short life. They are greatly appreciated. 

Armando operates Armando's Barber Shop in LaBelle on South Main Street.

Joe Thomas Re-Elected Party Chairman

Democrats Elect New Officers In Hendry
LABELLE, FL. -- Joe Thomas (standing) was re-elected chairman of the Hendry County Democrats at the local party's organizational meeting held at LaBelle City Hall on December 20. 

He is joined by State Committeeman Ramon Rodriguez and State Committeewoman Sofia Rodriguez (seated). Not pictured are newly elected Vice Chair Anna Littles from Clewiston and Secretary/Treasurer Mary Clay Mighty, also from Clewiston. 

The officers were all elected for a four year term ending in December 2016. 

Hendry County Democrats will meet in Clewiston on Thursday, January 24, at a location yet to be determined, just prior to Hendry County State Committee members' Mr. and Mrs. Rodriguez attendance at the January 26 election of Florida Democratic Party leaders in Orlando.

LaBelle Resident Dies At 100 Years Old

Christine W. Elliott, age 100, of LaBelle, passed away December 20, 2012 in Lehigh Acres.
She was born Jan. 13, 1912 in Mill Town, GA, to the late Charles James and the late Emma Caroline (Patten) Wheeler. 

She was a former resident of Okeechobee, Pahokee and Canal Point. Christine was a former Trustee of Barron Library and Past President of United Methodist Women. She also was a member of Friends of the Library, LaBelle Beautification Committee, Pahokee & Clewiston Garden Clubs, LaBelle Heritage Museum and Alpha Sigma Phi in LaBelle. Christine was a lifelong member of the Methodist Church.

Survivors include her son: Michael J. (Sherry) Elliott of LaBelle, Jess P. (Sharon) Elliott of Atlanta, GA, grandchildren, Joseph (Mette) Elliott; Susan (Michael) Lilley of LaBelle, Merry Lynne(Kent) Mathis of Jacksonville, Jennifer Evans and Mandy (Tom) Bird, great-grandchildren, Jared Mathis; Micah Mathis, Brandon Mathis and Lindsey Bird and nieces & nephews, 

She was also preceded in death by her husband, Jess M. Elliott son: Charles Elliott, and four siblings.

A graveside funeral service will be held Wed. December 26, 2012, 11:00 a.m. at Port Mayaca Cemetery, Canal Point with Rev. Joe Wallace officiating. A memorial service will be held Saturday, January 5, 2013, 2:00 pm at Carlson Memorial United Methodist Church, LaBelle with Rev. John Bennett officiating.

Friday, December 21, 2012

NRA Demands Armed Guards In All Schools

Defiant National Rifle Association Blames Games, Wants Armed School Guards

At it's first press conference since last Friday's Connecticut school shootings, the NRA presented it's plan to put armed security guards at all U.S. schools and said the organization would fund a "National School Shield Program" headed by former Congressman Asa Hutchinson.

Critics have called the NRA plan "delusional."

NRA's Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre said today, among other things, he wants compiled a national database of the mentally ill.

"The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters — people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly ever comprehend them. They walk among us every day. And does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn't planning his attack on a school he's already identified at this very moment?"

LaPierre went on to say the media was hiding facts about causes of gun violence. "And here's another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal: There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting
shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people.

"Through vicious, violent video games with names like Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse. And here’s one: it’s called Kindergarten Killers. It’s been online for 10 years. How come my research department could find it and all of yours either couldn't or didn't want anyone to know you had found it?"

In the wake of calls for bans on sales of assault weapons and ammunition magazines capable of holding dozens of bullets, he called legislative "gun bans" a huge failure and said, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Would you rather have your 911 call bring a good guy with a gun from a mile away ... or a minute away?"

Critics, including teacher's associations point out that about two-thirds of U.S. schools already have armed security and the presence of a deputy sheriff on duty at Columbine High School did not prevent the massacre at that facility.

Sex Offender Monitoring Problematic In Florida

28% Increase In Registered Florida Sex Offenders

LABELLE, FL. -- Since 2005, the number of registered sex offenders residing in Florida communities has increased by 28%, while the number of absconded offenders has continued to decline, according to a study by OPPAGA. 

In Hendry county there are 30 offenders registered, all male, mostly in Clewiston including two transients, one who has absconded and one in jail. In Glades county, there are 22 including one female, one transient, and one in jail.

In Hendry county, 31-year old Reynaldo Lopez (photo left) was convicted in 2008 for lewd and lascivious battery on an underage youth and is now missing.

But, almost 25% of sex offenders are unable to obtain identification cards because they lack the needed documentation or money. State and local agencies have developed a stopgap measure, providing sex offenders with a letter that acknowledges that they attempted to obtain identification. 

Monitoring homeless sex offenders is problematic as it is time-consuming to verify their location and provide required public notice. In addition, some offenders may claim a transient address to avoid legal requirements and restrictions. 

Florida is 1 of 15 states substantially compliant with federal requirements, county sheriffs’ offices report compliance with statutorily required registration and public notification activities. 

Local practices vary and some sheriffs could better coordinate with the Department of Corrections so as to not duplicate address verification efforts, says the study. 

Approximately 1,100 registered sex offenders were minors at the time of their offense. While many youthful offenders are subject to registration requirements, Florida law provides some exemptions for “Romeo and Juliet” cases and some other juvenile offenders.

Florida provides citizens official websites for locating offenders as well as a means to be notified by email when an offender changes addresses.

Bo The White House Dog Christmas Tour

Christmas At The White House Through Dog's Eyes

In case you have seen it yet (over 2,000,000 have seen it!), here's a cute video tour of some of the decorations in various rooms at the White House in Washington, D.C.

Bo makes a final inspection of the 2012 White House Christmas decorations before 90,000 visitors come through the doors of the People's House this holiday season.

Find out more about the 2012 White House Holiday celebrations, including the special tributes to troops, veterans and military families at

President Responds To Gun Violence

A Message From The President On Gun Legislation

The White House has issued a video and statement stemming from the violence in Connecticut one week ago.

"In the days since the tragedy in Newtown, Americans from all over the country have called for action to deter mass shootings and reduce gun violence, and hundreds of thousands of people have signed petitions on's 'We the People' platform.

In this video message, President Obama responds, explaining a comprehensive effort to come up with a broader set of serious proposals and encouraging Americans to continue their participation in this important process."


Apocalypse Now At 11:11 A.M.?

World Ending For Mayan Calendar Makers?

LABELLE, FL. -- The world is scheduled to end today at 11:11 a.m. ET according to some. But not likely says NASA and most people have not succumbed to the theory that the ancient Mayan people predict the world's final day happening on the the first day on winter in the northern hemisphere.

We do wonder though, just what Mayan calendar makers will do after today. And also, should we expect shopping malls to be crowded tomorrow with Mayans making a mad rush to do their Christmas shopping?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Watch For New Bird Signs In Florida

LABELLE, FL. There are new signs of economic opportunity and natural wonders in south Florida. Tourists and residents in 11 southern Florida counties may have noticed that directional signs for the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail were popping up all over the place.

Photo: Near the Hendry-Lee county line on SR80

The signs direct traffic to 113 new birding and wildlife viewing sites from Sarasota and Stuart south to Key West, joining hundreds of other GFBWT locations throughout the state. Not only do these signs, bearing the swallow-tailed kite logo, designate ideal locations for birding and wildlife viewing adventures, they are also a symbol of positive economic impact.

A recent study about birding in Florida indicated the trail’s road signs play an important role in visitors’ travel decisions. Of 1,652 participants, 65 percent had seen a GFBWT road sign, prompting a later visit (81 percent indeed visited later).

Birding and wildlife viewing are important to Florida’s economy, and the GFBWT program is an integral component of Florida’s nature-based tourism industry. According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service data, wildlife viewing generates more than $5 billion in Florida and supports 51,000 jobs. A recent statewide survey by Responsive Management showed that wildlife viewing is the second most popular outdoor recreation activity in the state (behind going to the beach) for visitors and residents.

The FWC installed the trail signage with a grant from the Florida Department of Transportation and support from the Wildlife Foundation of Florida. Dozens of federal, state and local government agencies, nongovernmental organizations and private landowners also supported the effort.

In addition to signs, the FWC has produced guide booklets that contain site descriptions, directions and maps showcasing birding and wildlife watching opportunities throughout Florida. Wildlife enthusiasts can download or order the GFBWT guidebooks at and

Need further help planning an adventure? Use the Trip-Planning Wizard on the GFBWT website or download the free mobile application “Nature Viewing Along the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail” at and A series of city and regional guides called “Ready, Set, Go … Wild” is also under way; the Orlando guide is now available.

World's Fastest Vehicle Prepares For Launch

Christmas Eve Launch Scheduled At North Pole

While millions of people eagerly await Christmas Day, Santa and his elves are keeping busy at the North Pole. They’re preparing presents, tuning up the sleigh, feeding the reindeer and, of course, checking the list (twice!) before they take flight on their trip around the world.

Tracking Santa since 2004 with Google Earth, this year a team of dedicated Google engineers built a new route algorithm to chart Santa’s journey around the world on Christmas Eve. On his sleigh, arguably the fastest airborne vehicle in the world, Santa whips from city to city delivering presents to millions of homes. 

You’ll be able to follow him on Google Maps and Google Earth, and get his stats starting at 2:00 a.m. PST Christmas Eve at  While you wait for the sleigh launch, try the hidden games found at the Santa Page.

Visit Santa’s Village to watch the countdown clock and join the elves and reindeer in their preparations. You can even ask Santa to call a friend or family member.

Port LaBelle Road Closing

Birchwood Parkway Closed For Five Days
LABELLE, FL  – Work is underway to expand five miles of SR 80 to four lanes from Birchwood Parkway to Dalton Lane. The week of January 7, 2012, Birchwood Parkway will be closed on the south side of SR 80 while crews install drainage pipes across the parkway.

This work is expected to take five (5) days. Motorists may use Collingswood Parkway and Cedarwood Parkway to access SR 80.

Birchwood Parkway on the north side of SR 80 is open to traffic.

Ten Commandments - Genesis Fragments Online

2,000 Year Old Bible Manuscripts Online Include Genesis And Ten Commandments

On Tuesday, the Israel Antiquities Authority launched the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library, an online collection of some 5,000 images of scroll fragments, at a quality never seen before.

The texts include one of the earliest known copies of the Book of Deuteronomy, which includes the Ten Commandments; part of Chapter 1 of the Book of Genesis, which describes the creation of the world; and hundreds more 2,000-year-old texts, shedding light on the time when Jesus lived and preached, and on the history of Judaism.

Internet users and scholars can discover and decipher details invisible to the naked eye, at 1215 dpi resolution. The site displays infrared and color images that are equal in quality to the Scrolls themselves. There’s a database containing information for about 900 of the manuscripts, as well as interactive content pages.

Google partnered with the Israel Antiquities Authority as part of ongoing work to bring important cultural and historical materials online, to make them accessible and help preserve them for future generations.

A little over a year ago, Google helped put five manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls online. The ancient documents include the oldest known biblical manuscripts in existence. Written more than 2,000 years ago on pieces of parchment and papyrus, they were preserved by the hot, dry desert climate and the darkness of the caves in which they were hidden.

The Scrolls are possibly the most important archaeological discovery of the 20th century.

Photo: Part of the Book of Genesis. Photo by Shai Halevi, courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Kid's Christmas At LaBelle Church

On Sunday , December 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m The LaBelle Assembly of God youth group will present a Christmas program, “It’s All About Jesus”. 

There will be an interpretive dance, soloists, group songs, a puppet skit, and congregational songs. Everyone is invited to be part of this presentation. Some of the young people participating are Kayden Billings, Hagen Billings, Benny Nieves, Brandon Helmlinger, Jonathan Chezem, Patrick Hyde, Oscar Perez Jr., Jacqueline Wilkins, Brittany Helmlinger, Shelbie Burtchaell, Jessica Koff, Kayla and Karly Harn. 

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

Pastor Cliffor Avery will be telling the Christmas Story to everyone this year on Christmas Eve. The lanterns will be providing light and there will be candlelight communion served. There will be some special music and Christmas Carol singing. Then pastor Avery will share the story of the Bethlehem child’s birth. Everyone is welcome! The service starts at 7:00 p.m.

The LaBelle Assembly of God is located at 123 Fraser Avenue across from the Edward A. Upthegrove Elementary School. Everyone is welcome to attend this heart warming presentation. For more information call 675-0900.

(Click on photo for full size)

New Year Starts Off With Pelletier Talk

Coming To The LaBelle Heritage Museum In January
LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County Property Appraiser Phillip Pelletier will be the guest speaker at the Thursday, January 3, program meeting of LaBelle Heritage Museum at LaBelle City Hall, 481 W Hickpochee Avenue, starting at 7 p.m. 

Pelletier will relate how he fell in love with the LaBelle area when he first came here some thirty-five years ago and decided this would be home. He will comment on the changes he has seen since coming to LaBelle and what he sees in the future for LaBelle and its surroundings. The meeting is open to all, and our winter residents are welcome.

LaBelle Heritage Museum at 360 North Bridge Street will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as well as on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day but will open for its regular hours on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday both Christmas week and New Year's week. 

Regular hours will resume on January 7, 2013. 

The museum has a new display prepared by local historian and former LaBelle Postmaster Bernard T. Rasmussen highlighting post offices in the LaBelle area including several in Glades and Lee Counties. The museum also has the late Ken Downing's pen and ink notecards of the Hendry County Court House and the 1914 Captain F. A. Hendry House available in the gift shop.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Dinners Courtesy American Legion

Know Someone Who May Need A Dinner?
LABELLE, FL. -- The American Legion will be delivering Christmas Dinners to LaBelle homes on Christmas Day.

The dinners are delivered without cost and will be delivered between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to anyone who may be home alone for the holiday.

If you know someone or you will be home alone for Christmas, are a shut-in or in need of Christmas dinner and cheer, the American Legion invites you to call.

Give your  name, address, phone Number, and the number of meals needed for a home cooked dinner of turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, cranberry sauce, fresh garden salad and dessert. Call the American Legion at 863-675-8300 or Nikki at 239-564-2005

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Shoplifters Targeted In Clewiston

Arrests High This Week In Clewiston - Half Are Shoplifting
CLEWISTON, FL. -- Clewiston Police Chief Don Gutshall reports this week that police are running steadily to shoplifting calls. He says arrests overall are extraordinarily high this week, and shoplifting accounts for roughly half of them.

There are also a few calls for loitering and prowling and Gutshall says "These are good arrests, and who knows what they prevent."

The Police Department will focus on traffic infractions and they will be a priority during the holiday season as DUI’s tend to peak during this time of year, and the department wants to prevent any tragedy from occurring.

This week's activity:
1332 Commercial / Residential Security Checks
527 Complaints Investigated
28 Criminal Arrests
46 Traffic Citations
55 Red Light Camera Offenses
83 Merchant Escorts
18 Alarms Responded To
2 Traffic Accidents Investigated

Saturday, December 15, 2012

How Adam Lanza Lived - An Ultimate Recluse?

Parents Divorced - Lived With Mother

20-year old Adam Peter Lanza was born April 22, 1992, five years after his older brother Ryan. Adam, an honor student when in high school has been described as the ultimate recluse, dressed goth and was very slim in build.

Photo: Lanza family home in Newtown

His father, Peter John Lanza married Nancy J. Lanza in 1981 in Kingston, New Hampshire. Peter had a degree in accounting from the University of Massachusetts and later earned a Master's degree in taxation.

The Lanzas divorced in 2008 when he worked for General Electric. Nancy received alimony of $240,000 a year increasing yearly until 2015. Peter re-married a University librarian and lives now in Stamford, Connecticut and works for GE Energy Financial Services as tax director.

In February 2011, Peter gave a quitclaim deed to his wife for their home at 36 Yogananda Street in Newtown, Ct.  The 1998 3,104 square foot home on two acres is appraised by the town at $707,000.

Nancy has been reported as an elementary teacher at the school where Adam made a forced entry and then killed 26 children and school staff. Each child was shot numerous times. But, Lt. Paul Vance, a spokesman for the Connecticut State Police, said Saturday afternoon there was no connection between the alleged shooter's mother and her son to the school. She was shot in the face at their home apparently by a weapon registered in her name.

Adam's grandmother lives in Brooksville, Florida and would not comment when a reporter contacted her.

The Victims:
Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Rachel Davino, 29
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Dawn Hochsprung, 47
Madeleine F. Hsu, 6
Catherine V. Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Lauren Rousseau, 30
Mary Joy Sherlach, 56
Vicki Soto, 27
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison N. Wyatt, 6

Friday, December 14, 2012

Gunman Dead In School Shooting - 27 Dead

Mass Shooting At Elementary School

Update at 5:10 p.m. Friday

NEWTOWN, CT. -- Latest official reports say 26 victims were shot dead at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct. and one adult at another location in the town. The total dead includes 20 children at the kindergarten through 4th grade school and six adult staff at the school. 18 children were killed at the school, and two died at the hospital.

The shootings took place at one particular section of the school, which is not being disclosed by officials in two different rooms. It is speculated one room was the kindergarten classroom where the shooter's mother taught, and the other the principal's office.

The school is just off Interstate 84 in Newtown, a Fairfield county town with a population of 28,000 northwest of New Haven, Connecticut.

Original reports from the local Danbury hospital said only three adults had been admitted to the hospital, although when asked about reports of dozens of injured or dead, the official said he didn't know anything about that.

At 1:43 p.m. a State Police spokesperson admitted there were "several fatalities" including children and school staff.

There is some confusion as to the identity of the shooter. Although the "perpetrator" was said to be dead along with an associate of his, according to a statement by the Governor. There is speculation the shooter was one of two sons of a school kindergarten teacher, and that possibly the shooter was carrying the brother's ID.

Originally reported was Ryan Lanza, as the 24-year old male gunman from Hoboken, N.J., reportedly dressed all in black fatigues and his body still at the scene. He reportedly had ties to the local community. A rifle has been reported to have been used. It is unknown how he died. Two 9 mm handguns were found at the school said early reports.

Later a younger brother, Adam Lanza was reported as possibly the shooter, and that Ryan was being held for questioning. He was later confirmed as the shooter and that he committed suicide after killing the children and school staff.

Two Hoboken roommates of Ryan Lanza were questioned by New Jersey investigators but are believed to be not involved.

Another Lanza family member, reportedly has been found dead at another location.

A 911 call was received about shots being fired at the school at 9:41 a.m. A reverse 911 call went out to parents about the emergency and parents started streaming to the area to pick up their children.

The local school system said the lock down at all six other area public schools was discontinued this morning and all children were to be transported home on their regular bus routes.

The city's website and the county school district websites were unavailable.

Live Coverage From NYC
Newtown Fire And Police Live Radio

23 Tons Of Gravel Stops Traffic For Hours

Truck Spills Load - Stops Traffic For Three Hours

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Jesus Betancourt, 50 of Miami stopped traffic on US27 in Glades county when his commercial motor vehicle loaded with approximately 23 tons of gravel overturned Wednesday morning about 6 a.m.

Betancourt was traveling north on U.S. 27 (SR 25) in the inside lane and swerved left to avoid a phantom vehicle attempting to change lanes. His vehicle entered the grass median as he lost control of the vehicle.

He then attempted to reenter the roadway and over steered left in an attempt to regain control. The trailer jackknifed and overturned onto its left side coming to final rest in the grass median, facing west.

The northbound inside lane was closed for three hours due to the trailer dumping its load.

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Aimee Shupe Wingate, age 24, of LaBelle, passed away December 8, 2012 in LaBelle.
She was born Jan. 12, 1988 in West Palm Beach, FL, to Christopher Harlan and Valerie Anne (Watson) Shupe.

She is survived by her husband: Nicholas B. Wingate, son: Barrett Wingate, daughter: Kristy Wingate, father: Christopher Harlan Shupe, mother: Valerie Anne Shupe, sisters: Ansley Cockram, Abbey Shupe ,grandmothers, Barbara Shupe and Dottie Watson; Uncles, Justin Shupe and Marshall Shupe; mother-in-law: Cindy Wingate; father-in-law: Earl Wingate; brother in-law, Eric Wingate; grandmother-in-law: Grace Stephens.

Funeral services were held Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 11:00 am at First Baptist Church of Clewiston, with Dr. Todd Buck and Woodie Salvatore officiating. Interment was in Ridgelawn Cemetery, Clewiston.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Oldest Church Features Musical By Pastor's Wife

LaBelle's Oldest Church Celebrates Christmas With Musical

LABELLE, FL. -- On Sunday December 16th at 11:00 a.m. the LaBelle Assembly Of God will present the musical “The Baby Who Brought Forgiveness,” written by Katherine Avery, wife of Pastor Cliff Avery. 

This musical shares that there is hope in a world that has pushed away from God and how we can find our way back. Songs sung in this musical include, He Didn't Throw The Clay Away, Mary Did You Know?, This Little Child, White As Snow, Amazing Grace, Do You See What I See, East To West, and Forgiveness. 

The church is the oldest church in LaBelle and it is decorated for the holiday season. Everyone is invited. LaBelle Assembly Of God is located at 123 Fraser Avenue, across from the Edward Upthegrove Elementary School. For more information call 675-0900.

Teens Found In Murder-Suicide

Possible Argument Leads To Teen Couple's Death

IMMOKALEE, FL. -- Collier County Sheriff’s Office deputies are conducting a dual death investigation in Immokalee, Florida.

On Wednesday night around 11 p.m. deputies were called to 205 N. 6th St., where Coby Martinez Deleon, 18, and Natalia Trejo, 17, were found dead. Deputies are investigating the deaths as a probable murder-suicide. 

The teens were found at the grandmother's home. The mother of the male called the Sheriff's office. It is not clear who pulled the trigger on the gun first. They were Immokalee High School students.

Deleon's Facebook page says he's "married" to Nati Trejo and shows a dateline saying he was married November 25, 2012. Another entry show a relationship noted "married since December 15, 2011" with Trejo's picture.

The investigation is ongoing and details will be released as they become available, said the Sheriff's Department.

Photo: Facebook

Shopping With Your Local Neighbors

Save Time And Money - Shop Your Local Community Businesses

LABELLE, FL. -- Save time and shop this season from among Hendry and Glades local merchants, professionals, and trades people for the best in convenience and service.

Southwest Florida Online has been supported for over a decade by generous contributions from the following local companies. Please patronize them and mention you saw their ads on Southwest Florida Online:

Computer Service:
Gary Peters Computer Services (863) 675-7925

Mowing & Grading:
Pete's Tractor Service (239) 728-6629

Air Conditioning:
Phillip's AC And Heating Services (863) 675-2878

Alden A. Rumfelt, Attorney At Law (863) 673-0251

Armando's Barber Shop (863) 673-2265

Pawn Shop:
Gold And Guns, Inc.  (863) 673-0251

LaBelle Plumbing Corporation (863) 675-1155

Alvarez Tire Shop (863) 946-1370
Ram's Used and New Tires (863) 675-4777

Stratonet Internet Service (888) 382-8503

See local ads and specials on the Sunday Morning News Online News Page

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Elizabeth (Betty Houk) Yeoman, age 88, of Lehigh Acres, FL and former long-time resident of Carey, OH, passed away on December 6, 2012. She lived in Carey until her husband and she retired and moved to Lehigh Acres, FL.

Born Aug. 6, 1924 in Carey, OH, to Harold Houk and Harriet (Allmendinger) Houk. Preceding her in death was her husband, C.A. (Bud) Yeoman and sister, Barbara (Houk) Henry.

She is survived by two children, son, David Yeoman, wife Daria, Daughter, Nancy (Yeoman) Rose, husband Chris, grandchildren are Jennifer and Matthew Rose.

In 1942 she graduated from Carey High School, she went on to earn a Bachelors of Science in Education from Ohio State University. While at OSU she was a member of the Alpha Phi Sorority. She substituted and later taught 5th grade at Carey Elementary School for 12 years. She was a member of the Lutheran Church in Carey and later the Faith Lutheran Church of Lehigh Acres.

After their retirement Bud and she traveled extensively throughout the United States. She enjoyed outings with Red Hat Society, Woman's Club of Lehigh Acres and senior citizens groups. She also enjoyed musical theater with family and friends. During her life she loved her pets, especially her Scotty, Max.

A memorial service will be held in Carey, OH to be announced at a later date. The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Hope Hospice, 9470 Health Park Circle, Ft. Myers, FL 33908

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Shooter Dead In Portland Mall

Two Killed, One Critically Injured, And Shooter Dead

PORTLAND, OR. -- Panic arose at a Portland shopping mall in Clackamas County, Orgeon Tuesday. The Sheriff's office says a shooter was "neutralized" at the Clackamas Town Center Mall Tuesday afternoon.

Two shoppers are dead, and one critically injured along with the alleged shooter, Jacob Roberts, 22 who is dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.   The shootings occurred about 6:30 p.m. ET or 3:30 p.m. P.T.

Roberts was wearing a white mask and bullet proof vest and carrying an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon that apparently jammed at one point while he was in the mall food court.

About 100 Sheriff's deputies were in the mall searching for victims Tuesday and removing shoppers and store employees from the mall. As of 8:55 p.m. ET all stores had been cleared by Sheriff's personnel.

A local high school, located about a mile from the mall had let out students an hour before the shooting. The FBI arrived on scene at the 185-store mall along with Portland police and other area law enforcement agencies.

The shooter died from self-inflicted wounds, said Sheriff's officials. No shots were fired by law enforcement. Store employees and customers hid throughout the incident in back rooms of stores and in restrooms.

The Sheriff's office at a Tuesday night 9:30 p.m. ET news conference were not releasing many details due to the pending investigation, the Public Information Officer saying repeatedly "I can't give out that information" or "I don't know."

Live Portland Links:
Clackamas County Sheriff Radio Live
KGW TV Live Stream News
#Clackamasshooting Twitter Feed

Leg Irons, Fires, Unexplained Deaths At Florida School

Four Years After Criminal Investigation, More Boys' Graves Found

MARIANNA, FL. -- Investigators are taking a second look at the 122-year old Arthur G Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida for evidence of unmarked graves. A team of archaeologists from the University of South Florida has discovered more graves than a previous state criminal investigation revealed.

The archaeology team says they have found 50 shallow graves on the site using ground penetrating radar, more graves than investigators found four years ago in a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation.

Known as the Florida Industrial School for Boys in 1900 and the North Florida Youth Development Center when it closed in 2011, the "reform school" facility for delinquent boys in Northwest Florida was a residential school run by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.

The school has been the subject of a series of scandals over the treatment of boys confined there including allegations of beatings by leather straps and torture at the "White House," a small building on the grounds of the school, as well as allegations of a "rape room." 

As far back as a hundred years ago controversial treatment of the boys was being reported. In 1903, an inspection reported that children at the school were commonly kept in leg irons.

In a report published by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2010, 11.3% of boys surveyed at the school reported that they been subject to sexual misconduct by staff using force in the last twelve months, and 10.3% reported that they had been subject to it without the use of force. 

2.2% reported sexual victimization by another inmate. But the report said these percentages showed the home was deemed to have neither "high" nor "low" rates of sexual victimization compared with the other institutions.

Authorities say there may be a second grave site, as yet undiscovered at the school, since at the time, black and white students were buried separately. Although more evidence of graves has presumably been indicated by the radar equipment, permission would have to be given by authorities and families to exhume the graves to determine if anyone is buried there and how they may have died.

Previous Criminal Investigations Revealed 32 Graves

Official criminal investigations started four years ago on Dec. 9, 2008, when then Governor Charlie Crist directed the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate 32 unidentified graves at the school. 

Crist asked the FDLE to find the location of graves on the grounds and to identify where possible the remains of those buried on the site. The FDLE was also charge by the governor to find out if any crimes were committed, and if possible, the perpetrators of those crimes.

On May 15, 2009, FDLE released a comprehensive report detailing the graves found, all dug between 1914 and 1952 and on January 29, 2010 concluded its investigation into the allegations surrounding criminal abuse of students at the school. 

The investigative findings were provided to State Attorney Glenn Hess of the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit. On Feb. 25, 2010 State Attorney Hess advised there was insufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges.

During the course of the investigation, FDLE interviewed six former staff members and more than 100 former students and their relatives regarding beatings, methods of discipline and sexual abuse alleged to have taken place at the school. 

FDLE also conducted a forensic examination of the White House building, which is the location discipline was typically administered to students.

The FDLE report showed:

· Twenty four of the individuals died as a result of illness or accident. Of the 24, eight students and two staff members were killed in a dormitory fire in 1914. Twelve students perished as a result of influenza, pneumonia, tuberculosis, or other medical conditions. Two students died of accidental deaths: one drowned and another fell from a mule and ruptured a lung.

· In 1944, one student was murdered by four other students who were planning an escape. Accounts indicate the victim was killed because of his knowledge of the escape plans. The four involved were charged in the death.

· In September 1940, an individual ran away from the school and was later found deceased four months later under a Marianna residence. Records reflect a coroner’s inquest but determination of death could not be made due to decomposition.

· Five individuals, all of whom were buried from 1919 – 1925, had no listed cause of death. The only notation found in records indicated that they were buried in the cemetery.

In addition to identifying the 31 individuals buried at the cemetery, the investigation documented 50 student deaths that occurred from 1911 to the last known death at the school in 1973. These deaths were mostly accidental or illness-related and their circumstances are documented in school records and death certificates. 

Two of these deaths are cases in which students murdered other students. In one case, an escapee from the school was shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy. The records available document all of these student deaths. There is no information indicating burial in the cemetery.

The investigation found no evidence that the school or the staff caused, or contributed to, any of these deaths. The investigation found no evidence that the school or its staff made any attempts to conceal the deaths of any students at the school. In all cases, the deceased were accounted for in official records.

In conducting the investigation, FDLE interviewed former students and staff and reviewed records from school ledgers, student record books, the school’s newspaper (The Yellow Jacket), local and national newspapers, the Florida Department of State Library and Archives and the Florida Department of Health’s Division of Vital Statistics. The Department of Juvenile Justice cooperated fully in the investigation and provided FDLE with access to all available records, files and documentation.

FDLE’s investigation also found that during the time the graves were placed (1914 – 1952), the school was owned or operated by the Governor Appointed Commissioners and the Board of Commissioners of State Institutions.

Ex-Cop 'Vigilante" Murderer To Be Executed Tonight

Claimed Killings Rid Community Of "Vermin"

Manuel Pardo, Jr. will be executed tonight at 6 p.m. at the Florida State Prison in Starke, Florida. 

Pardo, in prison since June 1988 was convicted on nine counts of January 1986 first-degree murders in Miami.

His attorneys told a Federal court Monday that the drug combinations being used tonight for lethal injections would violate his civil rights if the drugs were improperly mixed and the anesthetic effect didn't work.

Federal Judge Timothy Corrigan denied the motion.

Pardo served in the Navy from 1974 to 1978, and then joined the Marine Reserves and worked for the Florida Highway Patrol and then the Sweetwater Police Department, a small town west of Miami.

He was fired from the department in 1985 after lying in court.

At his trial for the murder of individuals involved in drugs he claimed "I'm ridding the community of this vermin and technically it is not murder because they're not human beings."

Pardo's attorneys had filed an appeal to the Florida Supreme Court claiming Pardo was incompetent to stand trial in 1988.

Life In A Death Watch Cell

He has been housed in a Death Watch cell measuring 12 x 7 x 8.5 feet high, and has been allowed a shower every other day. 

Pardo is given a spork with his meals and eats from a tray. He may request a last meal. To avoid extravagance, the food to prepare the last meal must cost no more than $40 and must be purchased locally.

Death Row inmates can be distinguished from other inmates by their orange t-shirts. Death Row inmates may have snacks, radios and 13" televisions in their cells. Beginning October 1, 2011, inmates were prohibited from smoking cigarettes and using any form of tobacco in prison, including on death row.

They do not have cable television or air-conditioning and they are not allowed to be with each other in a common room. They can watch church services on closed circuit television. While on Death Watch, inmates may have radios and televisions positioned outside their cell bars.

Pardo is one of 406 individuals on Death Row in Florida. The list of individuals awaiting either lethal injection or the electric chair includes 241 white males, 147 black males, 1 white female, and 2 black females.

Photo: Gurney in the execution chamber where Pardo will receive lethal injections

The electric chair will be unbolted from the floor in the execution chamber and moved outside when the chamber is used for lethal injection. The electrical apparatus used with the electric chair will remain unchanged.

When death by injection option was allowed by the state, the Department of Corrections spent $42,142 to prepare the death chamber. The gurney cost $2,400 plus $1,135 in accessories, and three electronic heart monitors cost $26,166.

The doorway leading into the execution chamber was modified to accommodate a gurney and an area near the death chamber was converted into a lethal injection preparation room.

He will be put to death by an executioner, a private citizen paid $150 who is allowed to keep his or her identity anonymous.

Update: Pardo was pronounced dead at Florida State Prison at 7:47 p.m. Tuesday night, about 16 minutes after the lethal injection process began. A malfunction in the sound system prevented reporters from hearing his final statement but his last words were "Airborne forever. I love you, Michi baby," referring to his daughter.

In a final written statement he took responsibility for killing six men but denied killing three woman.

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Reaves Hendry, age 88, of Palmdale, passed away December 5, 2012 in Port Charlotte. He was born Mar. 20, 1924 in Moore Haven to the late William E. and the late Mamie (Reaves) Hendry. 

Reaves worked in CC Camps in Highlands County before he served in the Army during WWII. After the war, he worked for Lykes Bros and then the Atlantic Coast Railways for a time. He worked for many years as a Bridge Inspector for the Florida Department of Transportation.
Reaves was instrumental in founding Palmdale Baptist Church and also served as a Deacon.

Survivors include his wife: Ona (Arnold) Hendry, son: Ray (Denise) Hendry of Palmdale, daughter: Diane (Ronnie) Carlton of Zolfo Springs, brother: Olsie (Audrey) Hendry of Lehigh Acres, sisters: Mollie Lanier of Palmdale, Loraine Shewmaker of TX, grandchildren: Will Hendry, Charles Hendry, Amanda Willis, Samantha Hendry, J.R. Hendry and Guy Carlton; ten great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

Funeral services were held Saturday, December 8, 2012, 11:00 am at Palmdale Baptist Church, Palmdale with Brother Paul Dixon officiating. Interment followed in Ortona Cemetery, Moore Haven. Visitation was held an hour prior to service at Palmdale Baptist Church.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Teen Mutilation Secrets - Cutting More Common In Girls

Self-Mutilation - The Secret Teens Hide

“Emma’s” mom first noticed the cuts when “Emma” was doing the dishes one night. “Emma” told her mom that their cat had scratched her. Her mom seemed surprised that the cat had been so rough, but she didn’t think much more about it.

“Emma’s” friends had noticed something strange as well. Even when the weather was hot, “Emma” wore long-sleeved shirts. She had become secretive, too, like something was bothering her. But “Emma” couldn’t seem to find the words to tell her mom or her friends that the marks on her arms were from something she had done.

“Anna” was wearing long sleeves under her soccer jersey again. She told her friend she was concerned about getting to much sun. But when “Anna” raised her arm, her friend noticed fresh cuts on her forearm. When “Anna” saw that her friend was looking at them, she said something about ‘losing a fight with her mother’s rose bushes’.

Cutting, also known as Self-Injury or self-mutilation is a very common problem and many people are struggling to deal with it. Cutting is a way of expressing and dealing with deep distress and emotional pain. SI or SM can take on a variety of forms, from actual cutting of the skin with sharp objects to burning themselves, punching themselves, or banging their heads against the wall. Cutting has been popping up more in movies, music and other areas of pop culture.

Since cutting is generally done in private, no one really knows how widespread it is, however, the majority, but not all are female teens. Accurate information about rates and trends of self-harm are difficult to obtain since the majority of people who engage in self-harm conceal their injuries and may never come into contact with medical or other services as a result of their self-harming behaviors.

· Self-injury is one of the fastest growing child and adolescent behaviors in our country.

· Nonsuicidal self-injurious behavior usually occurs at age 13 or 14. Adults self-injure as well, but the behavior typically started at some point in childhood or adolescence.

· Self-injury is the act of deliberately destroying body tissue, at times to change a way of feeling.

In Hendry County Next Week:

Hendry County Sheriff’s Office in partnership with LaBelle High School is hosting a very important one night event on Suicide Prevention and Self-Injury Awareness presented by C.A.R.E.S. Parents, students, educators and professionals are encouraged to attend to gain a better understanding of this rising epidemic. Self-injury is a cry for help. Kids engaging in these behaviors desperately need parents to provide understanding and a willingness to listen.

Please join us at the LaBelle High School Auditorium on December 18, 2012 at 7:00 pm to have a better understanding of self-harm among young people - why it happens, how to deal with it, and how to recover from what can become a very destructive cycle.

C.A.R.E.S. (Community Awareness in Recognizing & Educating on Suicide) is an organization focusing on suicide prevention and awareness through education and advocacy. Participants will gain an understanding of suicide prevention and of self-injury and the steps to take in addressing self-injurious behavior in adolescents and young adults.

Guest Speakers are Sasha Navas, MSW, Barry University, Virginia Cervasio, Executive Director of C.A.R.E.S., and Dr. Geraldine Nobles of LaBelle.

Photo credit: Hendrike

Fried Chicken Burglary Suspect Caught With Frozen Meat

Burglary Suspect Arrested In Clewiston - Bag In Hand
CLEWISTON, FL. -- On Thursday, December 6, 2012 in the early morning hours, Deputies in the Clewiston area were notified of a possible burglary in progress at the Dixie Fried Chicken located at 728 E. Sugarland Highway, Clewiston, Florida.

A Hendry County Deputy witnessed two individuals, one later identified as 24 year old Douglas Scott Shelton acting suspiciously in the area of the restaurant. A few moments later, the deputy witnessed Shelton exiting the rear of the restaurant with what appeared to be a black plastic bag. Shelton was immediately taken into custody.

Deputies recovered a black plastic bag with several pounds of frozen meat inside.

Shelton was arrested on charges of Burglary, Grand Theft, Criminal Mischief and Loitering and Prowling. Shelton is currently in the Hendry County Jail on $32,500.00.

Hendry County Office Holiday Closings

A Confusing Array Of Government Office Closings For December
LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County offices will be closed in observance of the Christmas Holiday on Monday and Tuesday, December 24 and 25, 2012. 

Extra days of closings will be the offices of the Board of County Commissioners, Tax Collector, Property Appraiser and Supervisor of Elections which will be closed on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, December 26, 27 and 28, due to an employee furlough, and will reopen on Monday, December 31. 

But note that the County Building Department in Clewiston will be closed on Dec. 31st.

The Clerk’s office and the Court Administration offices will be open regular business hours on December 26, 27 and 28.

All County offices will be closed on Tuesday, January 1, 2013, in observance of the New Year holiday.

Gas Prices Five Cents Higher Than Last Year

Average retail gasoline prices in Florida have fallen 3.9 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.31/g yesterday. This compares with the national average that has fallen 4.8 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.34/g, according to gasoline price website

Including the change in gas prices in Florida during the past week, prices yesterday were 2.3 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 3.8 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 12.2 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 5.5 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

"The national average has continued to see a steady decline over the last week, and that trend will likely continue through this week at the very least," said Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. "Last week, the Energy Information Administration reported one of the largest single week increases in gasoline inventories in my recent memory, which will likely contribute downward pressure to wholesale gasoline prices in the days and perhaps weeks ahead," DeHaan said.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

AARP Gets Into Dating Game For Seniors

New Dating Service Online For Those 50 Year Old Or More
For Americans age 50+ looking to get back into the dating scene, AARP has launched an online dating service. This new service, says AARP, "gives older adults a chance to date in a way that resonates with what they know: going out on dates."

Debuting with AARP’s dating service is a new dating content channel with tools, resources, and expert advice on modern dating and relationships.

“More and more 50+ singles are using Internet dating sites and we want to provide a comfortable environment for them to get out and take a chance on love again or go on fun dates,” said Myrna Blyth, editorial director of AARP’s media division.

The AARP Dating site can be accessed at and gives visitors a 7-day free trial.

In addition to the various articles, tips and resources available to  users they can also get advice from dating experts Ken Solin and Nancy Kelton from a “he said, she said” point of view. Both will contribute regular articles to the AARP Dating channel and interact with members of AARP’s online singles community.

Various studies have found that older adults are the fastest growing segment of online-dating services and the results from a new AARP online dating survey of adults age 50+ show that older Americans are not only open to dating online, but they’re looking for a serious relationship (48%) and friendship/companionship (26%); 14% of respondents say they are using online dating for casual dating.

AARP conducted an online survey of 1,000 single adults age 50+ over a five day period in October 2012 to gauge their views on dating and see what’s driving them to or away from online dating. The following are results from this survey:

The top three reasons why people over 50 have tried an online dating site are:

- They are able to meet a broader range of people (23%)
- There is no pressure/they don’t have to reply or talk to people they don’t want to (20%)
- A friend recommended it (14%)

Of note, women are significantly more likely to try online dating based on a recommendation from a friend as compared to men (18% vs. 9%); and men say they ‘don’t have time to go out and meet people the traditional way’ as one of the top three reasons why they use online dating sites (14%) versus a friend recommended it (9%). Additionally, significantly more men (12%) try it because it seemed like it would be fun as compared to women (7%).

- Those age 50-59 are looking for a serious relationship compared to those age 60-69 (53% vs. 43%).
- Those 60-69 want friendship/companionship versus those 50-59 (34% vs. 20%).

The survey also found that men are significantly more likely to say that online dating does not fit their lifestyle compared to women (27% vs. 13%), and women are significantly more likely to say it is too risky to talk to strangers online compared to men (16% vs. 7%).

The complete survey results can be found online at

Police SUV Spins-Crashes On Wet Road

Clewiston Police Durango Loses Control On Wet Pavement

LABELLE, FL. -- A Saturday evening crash on State Road 80 at Lexington Parkway in mid-Hendry county left three people with minor injuries and all in the hospital.

A 2002 Ford F-150 was traveling west on SR-80 just east of Lexington Pkwy about 5:31 p.m. while a 2007 Dodge Durango Clewiston Police vehicle was traveling east on State Road 80 just east of Lexington Pkwy, approaching the truck.

The Durango driven by 25-year old Joseph Wynne Hicks of Fort Myers drove through standing water that was on the roadway and lost control spinning counter clockwise into the westbound lanes. The driver of the truck, 22-year old Danielle Routen of Cape Coral braked and steered to the right in an attempt to avoid a collision but to no success.

Consequently the front portion of the truck collided with the rear portion of the patrol SUV.

The final resting place of the truck was on the westbound lane and the northbound shoulder against the guardrail facing northwest. The final rest of the SUV was in the westbound lane and northbound shoulder facing southeast.

An unknown passenger in the truck was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital with minor injuries with the driver who also had minor injuries. Hicks was taken to Hendry Regional Hospital with minor injuries.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Southwest Clewiston Hit By Burglaries

Shooting, Drugs And Burglaries Top Week's News
CLEWISTON, FL. -- Clewiston Police Chief Gutshall says several reports of vehicle burglary have come in this week. To this point, all have been confined to a small area within the Southwest area of town.

Clewiston Police Officers arrested a suspect for involvement in a shooting which occurred last week. No one was injured in the initial incident.

The Chief said Patrol Officers made a very good drug arrest over the weekend. About a third of a pound of marijuana, and a vehicle were confiscated.

Clewiston Animal Control is spending some extra time in the Northwest section of town. The city has received complaints of an increase of animals at large over there.

Following is a brief synopsis of the week’s activity:

955 Commercial / Residential Security Checks
511 Complaints Investigated
30 Traffic Citations
66 Red Light Camera Violations
16 Criminal Arrests
68 Merchant Escorts
12 Alarms Responded To
3 Traffic Accidents Investigated

Friday, December 07, 2012

Drug Stings Net 349,304 Lbs Marijuana And More

3,780 Arrests, $186 Million Seized, Thousands Of Pounds Drugs Confiscated
MIAMI, FL. -- The Drug Enforcement Administration today announced the results of “Project Below the Beltway”, a two-year series of investigations targeting Mexican drug cartels and violent street gangs as part of on-going initiative against the drug distribution network in America.

Investigations in 79 U. S. cities and several cities within Central America, Europe, Mexico, and South America have resulted in 3,780 arrests, the seizure of 6,100 kilograms of cocaine, 10,284 pounds of methamphetamine, 1,619 pounds of heroin, 349,304 pounds of marijuana, $148 million dollars in U.S. currency, and $38 million dollars in other assets seized.

The series of federal, state, and local investigations began in May 2010 and culminated yesterday.

In addition to the federal investigations, "Project Below the Beltway" also consisted of numerous state and local investigations that targeted the Sinaloa and Juarez Cartels from Mexico and associated drug trafficking organizations around the world and in the U.S.

The DEA Special Operations Division (SOD) coordinated Project Below The Beltway and the efforts of the DEA, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Customs and Border Protection, United States Marshals Service, the Office of Foreign Asset Control, and numerous state and local law enforcement entities.

Zimmerman Sues NBC For Deception And Exploitation

NBC Accused Of Exploitative Journalism

ORLANDO, FLORIDA -- George Zimmerman, accused of the murder of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida last year,  has filed a lawsuit against NBCUniversal Media, LLC. Mark O’Mara joins James Beasley of The Beasley Firm as co-counsel in this civil lawsuit.

Zimmerman's attorney O'Mara has been publishing online all the court filings in the case in defense of his client. Along with attorney Beasley, they claim NBC unfairly edited a 911 call the night of Martin's death, unfairly depicting their client as a racist.

Zimmerman is claiming self-defense in the rainy night incident in Sanford, Florida

The two attorneys say the release of the court documents is "necessary to counter the avalanche of negative publicity -- and as the George Zimmerman v. NBCUniversal Media, LLC. complaint alleges – including deceptive and exploitative journalism that has defamed the character of George Zimmerman."

A legal complaint was filed Thursday against NBCUniversal Media, LLC and three individuals who were employed by NBCUniversal Media, LLC, Inc. during the time relevant to the complaint: Ron Allen, Lilia Rodriguez Luciano, and Jeff Burnside.

The 24-page complaint alleges “NBC News saw the death of Trayvon Martin not as a tragedy but as an opportunity to increase ratings, and so set about to create the myth that George Zimmerman was a racist and predatory villain.”

The complaint, filed in Seminole County, demands a trial by jury, and demands damages sufficient to invoke the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court. The city of Sanford, where the incident occurred is located in Seminole county, a few miles south of Orlando.

Driver Critical After Crash - Airlifted To Hospital

Airlifted To Hospital After Ending Up At Boat Docks

LABELLE, FL. -- The driver of a 2004 Ford F-150 truck was in critical condition Thursday morning after a crash in LaBelle, Florida.

The truck driven by Antonio Moreno, 30 of LaBelle was traveling east on Old County Road 78 west of State Road 29 about 3:30 a.m. when he lost control of the vehicle while negotiating the road curving right. He traveled across the westbound lane and entered the residential driveway located at 450 Old CR 78 and then reentered the road and traveled across the eastbound lane and onto the south grass shoulder.

The truck began to rotate clockwise as it traveled across the residential driveway located at 383 Old County Road 78 and struck a tree with its left rear portion and rotated counter-clockwise continued traveling in a southeasterly direction.

It then struck a chain linked fence with its front portion and came to final rest in the parking lot of the Hendry County Boat Dock located at 363 CR 78 facing southeast.

The driver was ejected due to being unrestrained within the vehicle and was transported by helicopter to Lee Memorial Hospital in critical condition.

Charges are pending and it was unknown whether alcohol played a part in the crash, according to the FHP crash report.